Brazil: Record of murders of indigenous leaders

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

Record of murders of indigenous leaders shows that violence has been released in Brazil

The seven indigenous leaders killed in episodes of land conflict in Brazil in 2019 represent the most violent period in the last 11 years, reports preliminary report of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT)

(Photo: Antonio Cruz / Brazil Agency)
 

Sputnik – Data from the Pastoral Land Commission Report published by the G1 show that in 2018, two leaders of the original peoples were murdered.

The most recent violent episodes took place over the weekend, when two Guajajara indigenous leaders were killed in an attack in Maranhão and the indigenous Humberto Peixoto Lemos died in a hospital in Manaus, Amazonas, after being beaten by beatings.

“This year is extremely worrying and serious for the land issue, the land issue of the country. In fact, since 2016 we have been suffering from both the scrapping of organs and the very instances related to land issues being delivered from tray to tray. agribusiness, “says CPT national coordinator Paulo César Moreira to Sputnik Brasil.

The provisional measure of land legalization signed on Wednesday (11) by President Jair Bolsonaro is viewed with concern by Moreira, who also says that the president’s words have a “direct reflection on the violence being perpetrated”.

Repeatedly, Bolsonaro has said he will not demarcate indigenous lands and has said in 2017 that quilombolas (descendants of the enslaved population brought to Brazil) “are not even for breeding.” 

Moreira believes that there is an “increase of fascist groups in Brazil” and that the way is being opened for “liberalization of violence”.

“The state has a big responsibility in this. Because with these murders, the people who did it and the principals, if not punished, this green light that is already lit up can move forward and create a climate of even greater violence. extremely severe scenario “, analyzes the CPT coordinator.

After the most recent murder of indigenous people in Maranhão, Justice Minister Sergio Moro announced the sending of the National Force to the region. Moreira, however, views the decision with suspicion: “The government tries to show some importance, some need to resolve this situation. However, this seems extremely false when, on the other hand, countermeasures are implemented. agribusiness support policy. “

In a statement, the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi) denounces that the president of the National Indian Foundation (Funai), Marcelo Xavier, “replaced anthropologists with extensive technical experience in Working Groups created to carry out indigenous land identification and delimitation studies by ‘ trustworthy people ‘without competence for the job’.

Cimi also says that Moro “refuses to receive indigenous representatives who have requested hearings to resolve territorial issues” and that there is “instrumentalization of indigenous policy in favor of the economic interests of ruralists, miners and loggers.”

Brazil: Attacks on democracy and fake news bring Bolsonaro approval down to 25%

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

Attacks on democracy and fake news bring Jair Bolsonaro approval down to just 25%, El Pais poll shows

False news spread by Jair Bolsonaro, such as grotesque information that actor Leonardo DiCaprio was behind the burning in the Amazon, and attacks by pockets of democracy on democratic values ​​drove government approval to only 25%, according to El País newspaper

 

247 – Jair Bolsonaro’s authoritarian climb is noisy, but it also takes some of his support, as political scientist Andrei Roman of the Political Atlas has found, according to a report by journalist Carla Jimenez of the newspaper El Pais. 

“Rejection of President Bolsonaro has risen in recent days, while the number of supporters who think his government is good or good has fallen from 27.5 percent on Nov. 12 to around 25 percent on Saturday,” says Roman, who monitors. tracking daily the networks for financial market clients “, reports Carla Jímenez.,

 “Rejection has risen again,” Roman explains, though he doesn’t need to know how much. But in the last survey, made on November 12, was 42.1%. “The president’s bet stirs up his radical base, but proves to be a risky game for his own political survival even before completing a year of government,” says the editor of the newspaper El País.

Amazon Paid No Federal Income Taxes In 2018!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SNOPES NEWS)

 

Did Amazon Pay No Federal Income Taxes in 2018?

SEC filing: “We have tax benefits … that are being utilized to reduce our U.S. taxable income.”

  • PUBLISHED 19 NOVEMBER 2019
  • UPDATED 20 NOVEMBER 2019

Claim

Amazon paid zero dollars in federal income tax in 2018.

Rating

Origin

A frequent political talking point — when issues of tax law and corporate governance are concerned — is the lack of income taxes Amazon pays to the federal government. In 2018, Snopes rated “True” the claim that the online retailer had paid no such taxes in the 2017 tax year. Readers raised the same question for the 2018 tax year, and once again our rating is “True.”

Though Amazon’s actual U.S. tax filings are not public, a broad overview of their overall tax burden can be found in their SEC 10-K filing. In 2018, the company made over $200 billion in sales, but paid no money to the U.S. government in the form of income tax (in fact, the government actually owed the company some $129 million as noted in parentheses in the chart below):

However, the company did pay taxes abroad and at the state level: “Amazon pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the U.S. and every country where we operate, including paying $2.6 billion in corporate tax and reporting $3.4 billion in tax expense over the last three years,” an Amazon spokesperson told Yahoo Finance in February 2019.

As we discussed in our previous Amazon tax fact check, the methods employed to make that extremely reduced tax burden a reality are only vaguely described by the company, but the process involves taking as many tax credits as possible under the law. “We have tax benefits relating to excess stock-based compensation deductions and accelerated depreciation deductions that are being utilized to reduce our U.S. taxable income,” the company wrote in their SEC filing.

Stock-based compensation refers to the fact that publicly traded corporations, like Amazon, can list the stock options they grant to employees as a business cost in their accounting, and if an option-receiving employee makes over $1 million a year in salary, the profits from the sale of those stocks can then be counted as a federal income tax deduction for the corporation.

With respect to the other tax credits or deductions? “It’s hard to know exactly what they’re doing,” Steve Wamhoff, director of federal tax policy for the non-partisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, told Yahoo. “Their public documents … don’t lay out their tax strategy. So it’s unclear exactly which breaks [Amazon is taking advantage of].”

Regardless, it is factually true that Amazon paid nothing in federal income tax in 2018.

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Brazil: Bolsonaro must even flee UN General Assembly

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BRAZILIAN NEWS AGENCY 247)

(THIS SHOULD BE NO SURPRISE, HE IS A HABITUAL LIAR AND COWARD JUST LIKE HIS IDOL, TRUMP!) (oldpoet56)

Bolsonaro must even flee UN General Assembly

Jair Bolsonaro, who previously said he would “even on a stretcher” at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, must remain in Brazil, claiming health care. Advisers say he would be the object of protests over the destruction of the Amazon. Another fact that motivates manifestations against him are his public praise for dictators and his postures against the most elementary principles of civilization.

(Photo: ADRIANO MACHADO – REUTERS)

247 – Jair Bolsonaro is expected to flee the opening of the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, although he said he would “go wheelchair-wise.” “Members of Planalto Palace already admit that the chief executive may not attend the event next week in New York, United States. Officially, the alleged reasons are only medical restrictions. Bolsonaro recovers from surgery to correct a hernia However, even before the medical procedure, some advisers privately assess that, after controversies involving the burning of the Amazon rain forest, there is also a political risk for the possibility of protests, “said journalists Jussara Soares and Gustavo. Maia, in a report published in Globo.

“Among the president’s aides and family members, there is disagreement about whether or not to go to the UN. The medical team that performed the last surgery and people close to Bolsonaro recommend that he not travel to preserve himself. Interlocutors told the report that the first Michelle Bolsonaro tries to convince her husband to cancel the trip. Another group argues that the moment is crucial for the Bolsonaro government to stand before the international community and make a public defense of the sovereignty of the Amazon, “says the report, without paying attention. to the fact that Bolsonaro intends to open the Amazon for commercial exploitation by Donald Trump.

Another fact that motivates manifestations against him are his public praise for dictators and his postures contrary to the most elementary principles of civilization. According to Ambassador Rubens Ricupero, Bolsonaro is an unrepresentable figure in the world.

Brazil Amazon: Old enemies unite to save their land

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Brazil Amazon: Old enemies unite to save their land

Kayapó and Panará during the meetingImage copyright LUCAS LANDAU/REDE XINGU+
Image caption Kayapó and Panará, once rivals, have united against the policies of the Brazilian government

While the world’s attention has been focused on the fires raging in the Amazon rain forest in Brazil, indigenous people living there have warned that the policies of President Jair Bolsonaro pose a bigger threat to their existence.

Rival groups have now come together to fight the government’s plans for the region that is their home, as BBC News Brasil’s João Fellet reports from the Amazon village of Kubenkokre.

Dozens of indigenous people gathered in this remote part of northern Brazil last month after travelling for days by bus and boat.

The meeting brought together formerly sworn enemies such as the Kayapó and the Panará.

The two groups were at war for decades, raiding each other’s villages in tit-for-tat attacks. The warring came to a brutal end in 1968, when an attack by the Kayapó, who came armed with guns, left 26 Panará, who only had arrows to defend themselves, dead.

Tensions remained high for years but according to those gathered in Kubenkokre, the two sides have now overcome their animosity for a greater goal.

“Today, we have only one enemy, the government of Brazil, the president of Brazil, and those invading [indigenous territories],” Kayapó leader Mudjire explained.

“We have internal fights but we’ve come together to fight this government.”

His words were echoed by Panará leader Sinku: “We’ve killed the Kayapó and the Kayapó have killed us, we’ve reconciled and will no longer fight.”

“We’ve got a shared interest to stand together so the non-indigenous people don’t kill all of us,” he said, referring to the threats posed by the arrival of miners and loggers carrying out illegal activities in their area.

‘69,000 football fields lost’

More than 800,000 indigenous people live in 450 demarcated indigenous territories across Brazil, about 12% of Brazil’s total territory. Most are located in the Amazon region and some groups still live completely isolated and without outside contact.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January, has repeatedly questioned whether these demarcated territories – which are enshrined in Brazil’s constitution – should continue to exist, arguing that their size is disproportionate to the number of indigenous people living there.

His plans to open up these territories for mining, logging and agriculture are controversial, and any change to their status would need to be passed by the Brazilian Congress.

Encontro no XinguImage copyright LUCAS LANDAU/REDE XINGU+
Image caption Indigenous groups performed traditional dances and songs during the meeting

But it is something that worries the indigenous leaders gathered in Kubenkokre. “Other presidents had more concern for our land. [Mr Bolsonaro] isn’t concerned about this, he wants to put an end to what our people have and to how we live,” explains Panará leader Sinku.

“That’s why I have a heavy heart and that’s why we’re here talking to each other.”

In some demarcated areas, loggers and miners are already at work after some local indigenous leaders granted them permission.

Indigenous leader Bepto Xikrin told the gathering how some 400 miners and loggers had illegally entered the Bacajá territory since the start of the year. He said that members of his indigenous group were scared and did not know what to do.

And according to a network of 24 environmental and indigenous groups, Rede Xingu+, an area equivalent to 69,000 football fields was destroyed between January and June of this year alone in the Xingu river region.

Doto TakakireImage copyright LUCAS LANDAU/REDE XINGU+
Image caption Kayapó leader Doto Takakire shows some of the destroyed areas in the Xingu basin

Heavy machinery has caused major damage and the Fresco and Branco rivers that run through the region have been contaminated with mercury.

Kayapó leader Doto Takakire said illegal mining had been further encouraged by the fact that it often goes unpunished.

Analysis by BBC Brasil shows the number of fines handed out by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) for environmental violations has dropped significantly since President Bolsonaro took office on 1 January.

Presentational white space
A graph showing the number of fines handed out since 2009
Presentational white space

Mr Bolsonaro has in the past pledged to limit the fines imposed for damaging the Amazon and many blame the president for Ibama’s current weak position.

‘We won’t repeat the past’

At the meeting – which was held in both Portuguese and Kayapó – participants discussed projects for their region’s economic developments which do not contribute to deforestation, such as handicrafts and the processing of native fruits.

“[I’m concerned] about the trees, water, fish, the non-indigenous people who want to enter our land,” explained Sinku. “I don’t want to contaminate the water with [toxic products from] mining… That’s why I’m here.”

Indigenous groups which have allowed miners on to their land were not invited, an omission which some of those attending described as a missed opportunity.

“There’s no-one here who wants agribusiness or mining in their villages, so are we just going to talk amongst ourselves?” Kayapó leader Oé asked.

Media caption   Why the Amazon rain forest helps fight climate change

The fires which have been burning across the Amazon were not a big topic of debate at the gathering, in part because they have mainly happened outside protected indigenous reserves but also because those gathered consider illegal mining and logging as more pressing threats.

“We won’t repeat the past,” Kayapó leader Kadkure concluded. “From now on, we’ll be united.”

BRAZIL: The Country Explodes Against President Bolsonaro

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

Molasses explode across the country against Bolsonaro and the devastation of the Amazon

Thousands of Brazilians protested with panellos in various cities in Brazil against Jair Bolsonaro and the devastation of the Amazon stimulated by him. During a radio and TV chain statement, Bolsonaro attributed the increase in burning to dry weather. Meanwhile, Brazilians were beating pans and asking for their departure. The hashtag # panelaço is Twitter’s most talked about subject

247 – Jair Bolsonaro was targeted by panellists in various parts of the country on Friday evening, 23, during a televised address in which he spoke about the devastation of the Amazon Forest due to fires and deforestation. 

The reason is Bolsonaro’s destructive and negligent environmental policy that has been causing the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, which burns in flames due to the increasing burning in his government.

The climate of widespread indignation against the government is the same as can be observed between 2015 and 2016. The movement led to a popular outcry that chanced the impeachment process of former president Dilma Rousseff.

Check below the repercussions of the first panelaço of the “new era”, which was recorded in countless regions all over the country.

Brazil: Smoke from Burning Amazon Turns São Paulo Afternoon into Midnight

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF LIVE SCIENCE)

 

Smoke from Burning Amazon Turns São Paulo Afternoon into Midnight

Day became night on the afternoon of Monday (Aug. 19) in São Paulo, Brazil.

Day became night on the afternoon of Monday (Aug. 19) in São Paulo, Brazil.
(Image: © Bruno Rocha/Fotoarena/Newscom)

There’s so much smoke from wildfires in the Amazon rain-forest that São Paulo plunged into darkness on Monday afternoon (Aug. 19), with day turning into night.

The atmosphere, reminiscent of Mordor in “The Lord of the Rings,” was a reminder that forest fires in the Amazon have surged 82% this year compared with the same period last year (from January to August), according to data from the Brazilian government’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE), as reported by El Pais.

That smoke, combined with clouds and a cold front (it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere), led to the midnight-like darkness in São Paulo, The Washington Post reported. The fires are largely burning in northern Brazil and have prompted the Brazilian state of Amazonas to declare a state of emergency.

Related: Earth in the Balance: 7 Crucial Tipping Points

“The smoke didn’t come from fires in the state of São Paulo, but from very dense and wide fires that have been happening for several days in [the state of] Rondônia and [the bordering country] Bolivia,” Josélia Pegorim, a meteorologist with Climatempo, said in an interview with Globo (translated from Portuguese with Google Translate). “The cold front changed direction, and its winds transported the smoke to São Paulo.”

The Rondônia fire, located near Bolivia, has burnt nearly 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares). This blaze’s thick smoke is prompting health concerns and has already forced an airplane to be diverted due to visibility concerns, according to Painel Politico, a Brazilian publication. This fire is reportedly human-made, Painel Politico noted, which is fairly common for fires in Amazonia.

For much of the year, fires are rare in the Amazon. But during the drier months of July and August, “many people use fire to maintain farmland and pastures or to clear land for other purposes,” NASA’s Earth Observatory reported last week.

(This human-made-fire situation isn’t so different from what the United States faces. From 1992 to 2012, 84% of the 1.5 million reported wildfires in the U.S. were caused by people while 16% were ignited by lightning strikes, a 2017 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found.)

Huge areas of the Amazon rain-forest are burning from human-made fires, as shown by this satellite image taken Aug. 13.

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory images by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership)

“Wildfires in the Amazon are not natural events but are instead caused by a combination of droughts and human activities,” researchers of a 2018 study in the journal Nature Communications wrote in The Conversation. “Both anthropogenic climate change and regional deforestation are linked to increases in the intensity and frequency of droughts over Amazonia.”

The fire-drought alternation leads to a nasty feedback loop. Trees store less water during droughts, so their growth slows, meaning they can’t remove as much carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere, the researchers wrote in The Conversation. These trees then drop extra leaves or die, in effect providing tinder for fires. And without a dense canopy to keep in the moisture, the forest loses some of its humidity, which normally prevents fires from starting.

“These changes are exacerbated by ‘selective logging’ of specific tree species, which opens up the canopy and further dries out the under story and forest edges, which are drier than the interiors,” the researchers wrote. “The result: normally fireproof rainforests become flammable.”

The fires are so bad that the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia was trending on Twitter this morning (Aug. 20). This news follows on the heels of another concerning development: Deforestation in the Amazon spiked 278% in July, according to satellite data from the INPE. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic who has promised to open the Amazon to industry, disputed the satellite findings and promptly fired the INPE’s director-general, Ricardo Galvão.

In the meantime, studies show that deforestation could starkly alter the Amazon. If 20% to 25% of the Amazon becomes deforested, the landscape could transform from a forest into a savanna. Currently, deforestation is at 17%, Mongabay reported.

What’s clear is that deforestation affects more than just the Amazon, as the residents of São Paulo found out yesterday. One Twitter user there even called it #gothamcity, referencing Batman’s grim metropolis.

Leandro Mota@leandromota_

São Paulo, 3:30 PM

View image on Twitter
184 people are talking about this

Brazil: Plane Carrying 7 Indigenous People Disappear In Amazon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

A plane carrying seven indigenous people disappeared in the Amazon rainforest, but few in Brazil are talking about it

Area where the plane disappeared in Amapá, northern Brazil | Image: Reproduction/Google Maps

On December 2nd, a small plane took off around Matawaré village, deep in the Amazon rainforest, in the northern state of Amapá. On board was an indigenous woman of the Akuriyó group, her son-in-law, and a family of the Tiriyó group – a teacher, his wife, and three small children. The pilot was Jeziel Barbosa de Moura, 61, who is experienced in the region.

The region’s indigenous people frequently fly from the most remote villages to the town of Laranjal do Jari, located 265 km away from the state capital, Macapá (the journey by car from one to the other takes around four hours). A one-hour chartered flight costs around 3000 Brazilian reais (around 770 USD).

Twenty-five minutes after takeoff, Jeziel sent a radio message saying that he needed to make an emergency landing. Radar contact with the plane was lost after that. According to information from the news outlet G1, he was flying clandestinely without having previously disclosed a flight plan.

Fifteen days after the plane went missing, the Brazilian Air Force announced they were suspending searches for survivors. The mission amounted to 128 hours of flight in total. Two planes and a helicopter searched an area of 12,000 km2, roughly equivalent to 12,000 football pitches. However, the thick forest made the work difficult.

According to state news agency Agência Brasil, friends of the pilot and indigenous people from four groups – Apalai, Akuriyó, Tiriyó and Waiana – continued the search on their own, on the ground, until a month after the disappeareance, in January 2. The Association of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Amapá State and Northern Pará published a message condemning the Air Force’s decision to suspend the search.

The group recalled that the improvement of landing strips for indigenous communities is a longstanding issue. This negligence could have hindered rescue searches. G1 reports that there are 49 landing strips yet to be brought up to official standards in indigenous territories across Brazil, according to the Federal Prosecution’s Office. In Amapá state alone, “there are 17 irregular strips, which are used for the transport of health and education professionals, and indigenous people themselves”.

This case, although noted by some national websites and newspapers, has not made to the main headlines in Brazil. Eight people disappeared in the world’s largest rainforest and most of the country has not even heard about it.

The families

G1, a large mainstream online news site in Brazil that has been following the case, talked to relatives of passengers and the pilot. All of them said they were in “despair” and that they were waiting for help from the Army to search for the disappeared in the thick forest. The fear is heightened because it is a race against time.

The pilot’s daughter, Flávia Moura, said:

My father knows the region, he has been flying for a long time, so we know that he tried to land somewhere, but that in the forest it is difficult to find. We know the difficulty of air rescue, but we want to find him, and so we gathered some miners and indigenous friends of my father, who are in the forest. But we want help from the Army which is prepared for this.

Sataraki Akuriyó, son of the oldest passenger on board told the website:

My mother I won’t see again, and so I wanted to find at least the plane or her body. Since they fell I have been suffering a lot.

Silence

On the same day the Air Forced announced the end of the searches, then president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on January 1st, declared his intention to revise the demarcation of the indigenous reserve Raposa Terra do Sol, so that it can be exploited it in a “rational way”.

Within the reserve’s 1.7 million hectares, there are around 17,000 indigenous people from five groups – Macuxi, Wapixana, Ingarikó, Taurepang and Patamona. In an article, lawyer Lucio Augusto Villela da Costa recalled that the area is “known for being rich in minerals such as tin, diamonds, gold, niobium, zinc, caulim, amethyst, copper, diatomite, barytes, molybdenum, titanium, limestone, as well as having the second largest reserve of uranium on the planet.”

The idea of exploiting the lands, according to specialists, is “unconstitutional” under Brazilian law. His plan would go against the article of Brazil’s 1988 Constitution which provides the right for indigenous people to “maintain lands, way of life, and traditions”.

The website De Olho nos Ruralistas (“eye on the ruralists”, in English) which reports on conflicts over land and politics in Brazil, interviewed the anthropologist Denise Fajardo, researcher at the Institute for Research and Training in Indigenous Education, about the case of the disappeared plane. For her, the current political approach and the way that the case has been reported are not isolated:

The matter is not being discussed because the lives of indigenous people is not important at the moment, we are living through an anti-indigenous time and they are considered to be an obstacle to the country’s development. We can draw parallels even with the children lost in a cave in Thailand, which has had more attention from the press.

She added that indigenous people from the region often leave their villages to deal with personal matters and that there they feel isolated.

The Tumucumaque National Park is a small area which belongs to them and was where the state put them, or rather where the state isolated them. The region is difficult to access and no means of transport are provided to this population, who stay confined there to the village.

The village Mataware, where the disappeared plane left from, is only accessible bycanoe or plane. In the night of 17 December, another plane carrying indigenous passengers had an accident in the Amazon. This time, near the border with Peru. The three passengers were rescued alive by the Air Force.

Amazon facial recognition mistakenly confused 28 Congressmen with known criminals

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNET NEWS)

(WHAT, ONLY 28?)

Amazon facial recognition mistakenly confused 28 Congressmen with known criminals

The ACLU says it’s evidence that Congress should step in. Amazon says the ACLU didn’t test properly.

BY 

amazon-cloud-cam-2
Chris Monroe/CNET

Amazon is trying to sell its Rekognition facial recognition technology to law enforcment, but the American Civil Liberties Union doesn’t think that’s a very good idea. And today, the ACLU provided some seemingly compelling evidence — by using Amazon’s own tool to compare 2,500 criminal mugshots to members of Congress.

Sure enough, Amazon’s tool thought 28 different members of Congress looked like people who’ve been arrested.

false-matches-graphic-1
ACLU

Here’s the full list, according to the ACLU:

Senate

  • Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia)
  • Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts)
  • Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)

House

  • Sanford Bishop (D-Georgia)
  • G. K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina)
  • Lacy Clay (D-Missouri)
  • Mark DeSaulnier (D-California)
  • Adriano Espaillat (D-New York)
  • Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona)
  • Tom Garrett (R-Virginia)
  • Greg Gianforte (R-Montana)
  • Jimmy Gomez (D-California)
  • Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona)
  • Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois)
  • Steve Knight (R-California)
  • Leonard Lance (R-New Jersey)
  • John Lewis (D-Georgia)
  • Frank LoBiondo (R-New Jersey)
  • Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa)
  • David McKinley (R-West Virginia)
  • John Moolenaar (R-Michigan)
  • Tom Reed (R-New York)
  • Bobby Rush (D-Illinois)
  • Norma Torres (D-California)
  • Marc Veasey (D-Texas)
  • Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio)
  • Steve Womack (R-Arkansas)
  • Lee Zeldin (R-New York)

That’s a lot of Congresspeople who may soon have some very valid questions about facial recognition and its potential to be abused — particularly since Amazon thinks the ACLU didn’t use it properly to begin with!

Rep. Jimmy Gomez

@RepJimmyGomez

Did you see this? @amazon face surveillance technology FALSELY matched me w/ someone else’s mugshot. I’m outraged & worried by the impact this tool will have on when put in the hands of law enforcement! @JeffBezos: We need to talk ASAP. https://www.aclu.org/blog/privacy-technology/surveillance-technologies/amazons-face-recognition-falsely-matched-28 

Amazon’s Face Recognition Falsely Matched 28 Members of Congress With Mugshots

Amazon’s face surveillance technology is the target of growing opposition nationwide, and today, there are 28 more causes for concern. In a test the ACLU recently conducted of the facial recognition…

aclu.org

It turns out that the ACLU got its mugshot matches by using the Rekognition software at its default 80-percent confidence threshold setting, rather than the 95-percent plus confidence level that Amazon recommends for law enforcement agencies.

“While 80 percent confidence is an acceptable threshold for photos of hot dogs, chairs, animals, or other social media use cases, it wouldn’t be appropriate for identifying individuals with a reasonable level of certainty. When using facial recognition for law enforcement activities, we guide customers to set a threshold of at least 95 percent or higher,” an Amazon spokesperson told CNET by email.

But an ACLU lawyer tells CNET that Amazon doesn’t necessarily steer law enforcement agencies toward that higher threshold — if a police department uses the software, it’ll be set to the same 80-percent threshold by default and won’t ask them to change it even if they intend to use it to identify criminals. “Amazon makes no effort to ask users what they are using Rekognition for,” says ACLU attorney Jacob Snow.

employee-verification
The ACLU says that even when it comes to facial recognition for security purposes, Amazon’s website suggests that the 80-percent confidence threshold is sufficent.

Screenshot by ACLU

A source close to the matter tells CNET that when Amazon works with law enforcment agencies directly, like the Orlando Police Department, it teaches them how to reduce false positives and avoid human bias. But there’s nothing to necessarily keep other agencies from simply using the tool the same way the ACLU did, instead of developing a relationship with Amazon.

It’s worth noting that false positives are (currently!) an accepted part of facial recognition technology. Nobody — including the ACLU — is saying police would arrest someone based on a false match alone. Facial recognition narrows down the list of suspects, and then humans take over. Recently, facial recognition helped ID the Russian assassins who poisoned a spy in the UK, as well as the Capital Gazette shooter.

And Amazon didn’t actually create that many false positives even at the 80 percent confidence ratio, compared to, say, the UK Metropolitan Police’s facial recognition tech.

But the ACLU worries that Amazon’s false positives might bias a police officer or government agent to search, question or potentially draw a weapon when they shouldn’t — and we’ve all seen how those encounters can turn deadly. And the ACLU notes that Amazon’s tech seems to have over-represented people of color.

The ACLU also provided CNET this statement:

Amazon seems to have missed, or refuses to acknowledge, the broader point: facial recognition technology in the hands of government is primed for abuse and raises significant civil rights concerns. It could allow – and in some cases has already enabled – police to determine who attends protests, ICE to continuously monitor immigrants, and cities to routinely track their own residents, whether they have reason to suspect criminal activity or not. Changing the threshold from 80 to 95 percent doesn’t change that. In fact, it could exacerbate it.

Should Congress regulate facial recognition? Microsoft thinks so, and now 28 members of Congress have some very personal food for thought — 95-percent confidence threshold or no.

In the hours since the ACLU’s test was brought to light, five Congressmen have sent letters to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asking for answers and an immediate meeting. You can read the letters here.

Update, 12:44 a.m. PT: Added that five Congressmen have sent Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos letters with questions about the facial recognition tech. Also added that Amazon’s tech appears to have over-represented people of color, according to the ACLU.

Canadian Man Lynched in the Amazon After Being Accused of Murdering a Shaman

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

By CASEY QUACKENBUSH

5:16 AM EDT

A Canadian man was reportedly killed in the Peruvian Amazon after indigenous community members blamed him for the death of a spiritual leader.

According to Peruvian prosecutors, the body of Sebastian Woodroffe, 41, was found by police after a video of his lynching surfaced on social media Friday, Reuters reports. Video footage reportedly shows a man in a puddle before another man wraps a rope around his neck and dragged him as onlookers watched.

Woodroffe’s body was found 0.6 miles away from the home of Olivia Arévalo, the spiritual leader of the Shipibo-Conibo tribe and an indigenous rights activist. The 81-year-old died Thursday after being shot twice, and some members of the outraged community blamed her apparent murder on Woodroffe, who was believed to have been one of her clients.

Canada’s foreign affairs department offered its “deepest condolences following the reported assassination of Olivia Arévalo Lomas, an indigenous elder and human rights defender,” Reuters reports.

Arévalo’s death follows a slew of unresolved murders of indigenous activists who were threatened for opposing illegal loggers and palm oil growers, according to Reuters. There is little oversight in the Peruvian Amazon where local communities often punish suspected criminals according to local customs without official state involvement.

“We will not rest until both murders, of the indigenous woman as well as the Canadian man, are solved,” Ricardo Palma Jimenez, the head prosecutor in Ucayali, told Reuters.